Feeling alone as you swim through the terrifying waters known as the college admission process? Have no fear! We have several seniors blogging about ups, downs, and random in-betweens of their college process for the next 12 months (from June 2015 to June 2016!). Sit back, relax, and get that “OMG I totally get you, bro” feeling. Information for how to contact a blogger will be at the bottom of his/her posts.
To say that my life has changed since my last post would be an understatement. I broke my nose during cheerleading practice. I started my senior year of high school. I began hosting an Italian exchange student. I cheered at my last first football game of high school. I took the ACTs (again). As you can guess, this has all added up to the one word which I read about the most on The Prospect: stress.
As high school students, we experience stress almost everyday. And the truth is, stress does not go away as you grow up— if anything, it only increases. For an issue so important and universal, I am surprised that there are not more conversations about how to deal with stress. Managing stress is a huge part of mental health, and I believe we can always find healthy and creative ways to address this inevitable part of our daily lives.
Everyday before class my philosophy teacher allows us to meditate. For just two minutes of silence and minimal movement, I feel relaxed amongst a day of rushing between classes, practice, and homework. These two minutes where I just sit and close my eyes and focus on my breathing are the best part of my day. The awesome thing about meditation is that you can do it anywhere, anytime with no equipment or people necessary. Don’t underestimate the power of sitting and doing nothing but breathing in the chaos of everyday life.
Another way I handle stress is through exercise. As I mentioned before, I do cheerleading and gymnastics so I’m used to doing two and a half to three hours of practice after school. This may sound exhausting (and it is) but it is one of the best ways I can focus my energy. If I get a bad grade on a test, I can forget about it when I’m flipping through the air. When I’m upside down, I’m in my own world where I can release the tensions of the school day. Not only can exercise reduce stress, but it can also help you make new friends and become healthier in general. Whether you like to run, flip, skateboard, ski, ride horses, or play basketball, any sort of physical activity is sure to let your mind think about something other than that big test at the end of the week or college application deadlines.
Though it may seem obvious, getting more sleep can also reduce stress. It is widely known that teenagers get no way near enough sleep every night (I am certainly one of them). Often times people blame early mornings before school, or too much homework, but I blame phones and computers. It is so tempting to lie and bed and scroll on social media until you fall asleep, but this can make you stay up for hours longer than you are supposed to. I promise that no tweet or Instagram post that you see at 12:41 PM is worth your health and well-being the next morning when you almost fall asleep during class.
I also want to point out that stress doesn’t always have to be a bad thing if you mage it in a healthy way. For example, I used the stress I was feeling over my test scores last year to motivate me to study all summer for the September ACT. Use stress as a means to push yourself towards your goals instead of repelling away from them due to fear and self-doubt.
As far as stress over college applications, one of the best ways to alleviate this dreaded feeling is to stop worrying about everything you have to do and just sit down and do them. Often times we build a task so much in ours heads that it can seem near insurmountable until we actually do it. If you stress over waiting a long time before getting decisions, consider applying early action if you can. Also, having a strong set of safety schools that you like can reduce stress over not getting into a college you want to go to.
Above all, I believe putting your circumstances in perspective is vital in stress management. When you are worried about an important test, be grateful that you have the opportunity to go to school and get an education. When you think of all of the people who are unable to have access to any education whatsoever -not even higher education- it really makes you not take your own opportunities for granted. Though school is stressful, it is much more stressful to not be able to go to school.
Next time you feel stressed, think of all of the things you are grateful for. I am grateful for those two minutes of meditation before philosophy class. I am grateful to spend time with my cheerleading team and my coaches everyday at practice. I am grateful to be able to attend such an amazing high school. I am grateful for my family, friends, and teachers who have supported me during my college admissions process. Lastly, I am grateful for the opportunity to write for The Prospect and share my perspective with you all.